Former Country Singer Accuses Nashville Exec Kirt Webster of Sexual Assault
In the wake of numerous allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other powerful entertainment figures, a former country singer has accused famed Nashville public relations executive Kirt Webster of sexual misconduct, the Nashville Scene reports.
Austin Rick, also known by the stage name Austin Cody, moved to Nashville in 2008 to pursue a music career. He says he was introduced to Webster soon after his arrival. Webster was already known for representing a slate of high-profile artists including Dolly Parton, Jewel, Kenny Rogers and Kid Rock. He has been in the business of public relations for 30 years, launching Webster Public Relations in 1996.
“I started working with Kirt, and before I knew it, it didn't take long before I was trapped in a hellhole that I could not get out of,” Rick tells the Scene. “I trusted him completely, and he wanted to make me a star just long enough to sexually molest and abuse me. And I remember one time he told me, ‘I want there to be fireworks in your career, but only if there's fireworks between us.’ And that was like pretty early on in our relationship.”
Rick goes on to allege three separate incidents over a year (2008) in which Webster made sexual advances toward him, which he said included inappropriate touching and requests to strip nude. He claims that Webster continued to contact him, also providing the Scene with screenshots of text conversations as recent as this year.
Webster has denied Rick’s claims, releasing the following statement through a representative:
“As a single adult, Mr. Webster has had multiple relationships over the course of his professional life, all of which have been consensual. This includes a brief relationship with Mr. Rick. It saddens Mr. Webster that nine years later, after Mr. Rick’s music career has been stagnant, Mr. Rick has taken the opportunistic approach of mischaracterizing that relationship and posting untrue allegations."
Rick says he’s speaking out in hopes of preventing someone else from having the same experience, inspired by the #MeToo campaign of other victims of sexual harassment coming forward. He says he's been in therapy for seven years and has overdosed and slit his wrists.
“For years, I was so ashamed," Rick tells the Scene. “I just want to try to get some validation that I am still a worthwhile person, while at the same time, making sure that no other victim is his again.”
Rick, who came forward with his story on Facebook on Oct. 27, has started a GoFundMe page to pay for legal representation.
The Nastiest Lawsuits in Country Music